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Current Affairs

Amazon forests are no longer carbon sink

Date: 17 July 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

The Amazon Rainforests of Brazil have now started to become net carbon emitter as they have stopped absorbing carbon.

 

Background

Amazon forests are one of the largest carbon sink in the world. This has been reversed after persistent destruction.

 

Details

  • The study was conducted in eastern part of the Amazon forests for a period of 9 years. It says that continuous emission from the forest poses threat to global temperatures.

  • This phenomenon is not restricted to Amazon but some forests in Southeast Asia have also turned emitters due to forest fires and plantations.

 

Amazon rainforests

  • Amazon basin is the world’s largest forested area, which is twice that of India. About 80 percent of basin is covered by the Amazon forest.

  • Nearly one fifth of land species of flora and fauna are found in these forests. Large number of people including indigenous tribes live in this forest.

  • The basin contributes to about 20 percent of global freshwater that goes into the oceans. Major threats include deforestation and wildfires.

 

Threats

  • The forest fires have doubled since 2013. The major reason is burning of forests for expansion of agriculture and ranching.

  • About two thirds of forest lies in Brazil. The deforestation here started in 1970s when large areas were converted into ranches and for soy cultivation.

  • Infrastructure projects such as road construction and railways have also contributed to destruction of forested areas.

 

Observations

  • Earlier, Amazon forests absorbed large amounts of atmospheric carbon and had kept the global carbon concentrations lower.

  • The eastern forests have become dry and they no longer absorb carbon. The central and western parts are more intact and they are carbon neutral.

  • The area equal to size of US has been destroyed and converted into agriculture land. Precipitation has reduced by 25 percent and temperatures have increased by 1.5 degree Celsius.

 

Reversing the trend

Fossil fuel emissions need to be reduced and increase in temperature has to be stopped. Deforestation has to be prevented.